[Ger-Poland-Volhynia] not everyone came from Württemberg
albertmuth734 at gmail.com
Sat Apr 28 14:27:08 PDT 2012
It seems to come up often enough that someone's remote family origin,
the one where ancestors lived before migrating to Russian Poland
or Volhynia, was Württemberg. Well, some settlers did come from there.
I have seen this origin often for settlers in Ozorków, Gostynin, Gąbin,
Wyszogród and sporadically elsewhere. Sometimes,
people have successfully traced families back to before 1600 in
Me, I am very jealous of people who can trace that kind of
ancestry in Germany. I cannot. My Muth line "beamed down"
into Poland about 1794, which is when they appear in the
South Prussian land records. No clue there about origin.
The family tradition says we came from Elsaß, the
surname was originally Demuth. Both surnames, Muth
and Demuth existed in Elsaß.
My Abraham line appears to be in the area South of
Czarnikau (Posen region) going back into the 1600's,
well, well before the time frame of the Partitions.
To get a sense of where people came from before they
came to a specific region of Poland, you need
to become familiar with the Breyer map, from a
1935 article by researcher Albert Breyer
called "Deutsche Gaue in Polen" published in the
SGGEE has the original of the map at
an updated polychromatic version at
If we use the area covered by the respective Lutheran parishes as a
geographical unit, the settlement history is quite different. The
source for much of this history continues to be a 1972 book in
German (untranslated) by Eduard Kneifel, *Die evangelisch-augsburgischen *
*Gemeinden in Polen 1555-1939 : Eine Parochialgeschichte in
available on microfiche from LDS. SGGEE had at one time a project (in
but it seems to have died on the vine for lack of interest. Huh?
As my dad would have said, "I just don't versteh". No interest?
C'mon, SGGEE needs more volunteers.
As least for Volhynia, there are some serious historians out there,
including our own Dick Benert who always brings things to our
attention. They seldom have anything to do with Russian Poland.
I cannot name any historians at all for Russian Poland, who are
likely to mention German settlers. Nothing in English, unless it's
a few items on wikipedia.
My personal area of interest is the area of the Evangelical parish
of Babiak, particularly to the North and Northeast. I have
relatives in Bycz and Tymień who were there from say 1780.
Before the Partitions. This was not Prussia at all.
The area where they had come from, say, west of Gnesen,
was not yet Prussia either. In 1772 (date of the first Partition),
this was Poland, Poland. See
The map is at
These people were ethnically German, but were living in Poland and
probably had been for two centuries or more. And they kept
moving east to get away from the nasty Prussians and obligatory
Notice map of what Prussia had acquired via the 2nd Partition in 1793.
The third partition (1795) ended the existence of Poland as a country
The map of Prussia in 1806 is very important to understand
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Preussen-1806.jpg. It shows
the area considered to be Prussia. When people moved into this
area in the 1790's and early 1800's, they understood they were
going to be living in Prussia. Maybe it was just another region of their own
country. Maybe the government provided incentives for new settlers
to go in and populate the area, bringing their special talents.
Even the Prussian state of Posen received many, many new
settlers at the time of the partitions. If you have someone of
German heritage born there, say, in 1850, you cannot know
whether the family had only been there 75 years or more than 200 years.
You have to trace the family tree to know for sure.
To understand how our ancestors moved into the area later to be
known as Russian Poland, it may help you if I bring in an analogy from
American History. In 1889, for example, a two million acre
part of Oklahoma (about 3000 square miles or about 7700 square
kilometers, the entire state of Oklahoma is almost 70000 square miles
or over 181000 square kilometers) was opened up for settlement. Under
the provisions of the Homestead Act of 1862, a legal settler could
claim 160 acres of public land. Then, if he lived on and improved
the claim for five years, he could receive title. That is, the land
would be his.
I do not doubt that the specifics of acquiring the land were
quite different for us in Russian Poland, but I think the mentality
of "yee-haw" is not far off the mark. For the American history,
read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oklahoma_land_rush_of_1889 and
Anyway, just some thoughts about my own area.
Here are some statistics based on the origins of grooms and
brides in 100 marriage records from the parish of Rożyszcze
in Volhynia in 1876 (film #2380026). So, there will be 200 people.
11 marriages fell through, did not get performed. I will ignore these 22
19 people were born in Volhynia
44 were born in the gubernia of Petrikau/Piotrków (see map at
28 in the gubernia of Warschau/Warszawa
26 in the gubernia of Kalisch/Kalisz
9 in the gubernia of Radom
>From other Russian areas, 1 from Kurland, 1 from Podolia, 2 from Galicia.
12 from Posen
10 from Pommern
10 from Westpreussen/Ostpreussen
from other German-speaking areas
1 from Baden
1 from Mecklenburg
So, now, how many people were there getting married in Volhynia in 1876 who
from Württemberg? None. Zero. Zippo. Zilch.
And those from Volhynia itself? Barely 10% Everyone
else is a johnny-come-lately or parvenu.
P.S. By the way, for our non-native English speakers, the verbs "beam
are associated with the late 1960's television program "Star Trek".
Another way of saying "I do not know where my ancestor came from" is
saying that he "participated in the Federal Witness Protection Program".
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